What is sanity?

Half-formed posts, inchoate philosophies, and the germs of deep thought.

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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Arcturus Descending » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:36 pm

Tab wrote:It's not the whole answer though Arc. - can you imagine a situation where a person acting solely along the lines I gave, would be insane..?

And thankyou, btw.

I'm not quite sure where you are going with this, Tab, except to say that of course, even the insane have moments of sanity. Your question is sort of like a riddle to me. :)

And then again, we all have our own perspectives on what is sane or insane.

An insane person, in a lucid moment, might see a child drowning and respond by running into the ocean to save him...whereas one who is 'supposedly' sane, might not do that.

But to get back to the riddle - what does come to me is the question of awareness and belief. In an attempt to do what is felt and believed to be the right thing, an insane person may, in actuality, be doing more harm or the utmost harm, than good. Hitler comes to mind here. At the very least, he was a meglomaniac, but to believe in what he was doing was for the good, he had to be insane, at least in some respects.

Even sane people at times do more harm than good when they act without awareness and do not see the whole picture.

Aside from that that, you'll have to help me out.
“How can a bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?”
― William Blake


“Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath:
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die”
― William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience


“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”
― William Blake
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Moreno » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:53 pm

Faust wrote:Oh shit, anon. I often wonder what would happen if you put a full-blown, voices-hearing, psychotic schizophrenic on an island by himself for a while. Would you wind up with a quirky but happy guy?
What's interesting is that people who would get diagnosed as schizophrenics in 'the west' tend to do better in cultures without this diagnosis.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/magaz ... wanted=all

Also people who do fine in other cultures, with whatever the native metaphysical beliefs, categories, etc., would like be diagnosed as mentally ill if they were open about their beliefs in a meeting with a Western psychiatrist in a Western setting.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby anon » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:37 pm

Tab wrote:Well, skipping over the classic bell-curve, 'the majority is always sane' answer, I'd guess sanity would be that which results in behaviour that either positively effects or at least does no harm to the individual in question, in response to external conditions. For positive read - increases happiness/likelihood of survival.

Arcturus Descending wrote:
Tab wrote:It's not the whole answer though Arc. - can you imagine a situation where a person acting solely along the lines I gave, would be insane..?

And thankyou, btw.

I'm not quite sure where you are going with this, Tab, except to say that of course, even the insane have moments of sanity. Your question is sort of like a riddle to me. :)

And then again, we all have our own perspectives on what is sane or insane.

An insane person, in a lucid moment, might see a child drowning and respond by running into the ocean to save him...whereas one who is 'supposedly' sane, might not do that.

But to get back to the riddle - what does come to me is the question of awareness and belief. In an attempt to do what is felt and believed to be the right thing, an insane person may, in actuality, be doing more harm or the utmost harm, than good. Hitler comes to mind here. At the very least, he was a meglomaniac, but to believe in what he was doing was for the good, he had to be insane, at least in some respects.

Even sane people at times do more harm than good when they act without awareness and do not see the whole picture.

Aside from that that, you'll have to help me out.

I think maybe Tab is thinking that his definition only applies to the well-being of the individual, while he left out the well-being of others. Add that, and I'm personally happy with that definition of sanity. I think it's a useful one, and ultimately the only one that matters.

Maybe Tab was thinking of something else though.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Arcturus Descending » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:26 pm

Tab...

It's not the whole answer though Arc. - can you imagine a situation where a person acting solely along the lines I gave, would be insane..?

And thankyou, btw.

I forgot to say 'You're welcome',Tabby. :)

Anyway, another thought occurred to me here. Perhaps one could be looked on as being 'insane', where, if acting and continuing to act along the lines you gave, the other person is simply not willing to 'look at' and accept what we have to offer or are showing him/her. Of course, all things in due time - there is the holding onto possibilities out of caring, to show awareness, but at some point there has to be the letting go of - the walking away. If one still continues to try and try, without any result, well - one might be seen as being at least a bit insane. :lol: It just isn't such an easy thing to determine the right moment to detach...but I think something speaks within and we need to listen to that.

But I don't know if that is what you are referring to...but it's still a valid perspective.
“How can a bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?”
― William Blake


“Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath:
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die”
― William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience


“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”
― William Blake
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Pezerocles » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:48 pm

I think sanity is a precice combination of trusting one's senses and trusting one's reason. Or, sanity is having accurate readings and functioning software.

Mostly, it works on a scale.

A guy can think that he is living in the Matrix, trully believe this, even kill people on the side that he is convinced are Agents, and live a perfectly normal and happy life.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Tab » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:23 pm

Maybe Tab was thinking of something else though.


Nope, Tab was thinking of exactly that, and Arc was getting there too I think. Sanity cannot be wholly contained within only individualistic goals.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Trajicomic » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:34 pm

anon wrote:What is sanity?

The majority is sane, women are sane while on their periods, men who are feminists are sane, atheists and jews are sane, shallow people are sane, stupid people are sane, children are sane, criminals are sane after they finish serving time, crazy people in the mental ward are sane when they take their medication and agree with psychiatry, psychiatry is sane, psychiatrists are sane, the military industrial complex is sane, bombing countries for no apparent reason is sane, hating nazis is sane, equality is sane, agreement is sane, agreeing to disagree is also sane, watching lots of television is sane, playing lots of video games is sane, voting is sane, eating macdonalds everyday is sane, consuming stuff you really don't need is sane, listening to pop music is sane, following trends is sane, being shallow is sane, never questioning anything is sane, bowing and kneeling to the central government is sane, automatically trusting the government is sane, never reading a history book is sane.

I might have missed a few thousand.


anon wrote:Does the very notion depend on a commitment to philosophical realism to make any sense?

Fuck no, are you joking???


anon wrote:In the absence of a realist framework, is a robust and useful conception of sanity possible?

Sanity doesn't mesh with realism, because what is sane is what the majority agrees on.

If the majority agrees that God exists, then God exists. This may seem like a common logical fallacy, appealing to the masses, but that does not stop people from defining sanity to just this standard alone. Appealing to the masses is sanity. It's normal. It's the DEFINITION of normalcy and sanity.


anon wrote:Is perfect sanity possible?

When everybody agrees and the fear of Hell prevents anyone from doubting, yes, sanity becomes reinforced by the majority.

You see those nazi soldiers killing jews over there? The majority are doing it! Therefore, it's perfectly legitimate and sane.


anon wrote:Or is sanity just a sloppy indicator of a kind of acceptable middle ground between extremes?

How dare you call my sanity "sloppy"!

I just gave you a perfectly "sane" definition of sanity.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby Moreno » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:43 pm

anon wrote:What is sanity?
I think this question can only be answered abstractly, which, in the end, given that it depends on realism, is ironic at least if not contradictory. Sanity generally is not being insane, which means one has ideas about reality that interfere with one's daily functioning to a severe degree. One no longer takes care of hygiene and/or one's job a/o social relations. If one has ideas of reality that contradict consensus ideas, even radically, but one showers, shaves, does one's job, one will not officially be considered insane. You can even be a complete misanthrope, though poor social relations will get pulled into a diagnosis if you have problems in other areas.

Note: this definition says nothing about what real ideas one must have. One need not be a materialist, for example. One can have pretty much any religious base and any philosophical and spiritual ideas about 'what is going on' or at the other end be an utter materialist, atheist
as long as one is functioning well. Beliefs along cannot get one considered, officially, insane.
Does the very notion depend on a commitment to philosophical realism to make any sense?
I guess I have convinced myself, no. That one could have a complete constructivist notion of sanity and insanity.
In the absence of a realist framework, is a robust and useful conception of sanity possible?
yes, one could see it in terms of consensus vs. contra-consensus ideas coupled with functioning/non-functioning.
Is perfect sanity possible? Or is sanity just a sloppy indicator of a kind of acceptable middle ground between extremes?
I don't think it can take an adjective like that, especially such an extreme one. I don't think it is an indicator of a middle ground. Sanity is actually a negative term. It indicates a lack of a certain set of states.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby James L Walker » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:00 pm

Definition of sanity? Participating in collective society's majority of insanity without question in constant obedience. Hope this helps.
"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."
-Max Stirner-


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Re: What is sanity?

Postby monkey man » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:21 pm

James L Walker wrote:Definition of sanity? Participating in collective society's majority of insanity without question in constant obedience. Hope this helps.

Nice, I like it ... can I use it as my signature?
Definition of sanity? Participating in collective society's majority of insanity without question in constant obedience.
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby James L Walker » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:24 am

monkey man wrote:
James L Walker wrote:Definition of sanity? Participating in collective society's majority of insanity without question in constant obedience. Hope this helps.

Nice, I like it ... can I use it as my signature?


Sure, go ahead.
"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."
-Max Stirner-


"Laws are made by governments and are enforced by violence." - Leo Tolstoy-

"I am a disciple of chaos. I like to watch civilization burn and despair." - By Me

"Propaganda of the deed." - Bonnot Gang 1912

"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. My son's son will ride a camel just like my father before him."- Arab Peak Oil Proverb

"Civilization is nothing more than a globalized overly worshipped farm where the owners violently and oppressively domesticate other human beings like enslaved cattle enforcing the direction of their labors for their own individual profit."- Random Anarcho Primitivist
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Re: What is sanity?

Postby monkey man » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:19 am

Thanks and done.
Definition of sanity? Participating in collective society's majority of insanity without question in constant obedience.
    - James L Walker
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